Seven Miles Out

Stockport Express - - What’s On - Rose­mary Bar­ratt

AT Seven Miles Out we give com­mu­nity groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions a plat­form to con­vey their mes­sage through arts and mu­sic events, film screen­ings, pre­sen­ta­tions and talks.

This year we’ve put on events to raise aware­ness of the first Stock­port Pride, Ida­hot Day, sus­tain­able liv­ing, the Ev­ery­day Aus­ter­ity ex­hi­bi­tion and Black His­tory Month.

We feel it’s very im­por­tant to doc­u­ment Stock­port’s con­tem­po­rary so­cial his­tory and this Thurs­day we are de­lighted to be host­ing an event to mark the 50th an­niver­sary of the Roberts Arun­del strike in Stock­port, one of the big­gest strikes in the his­tory of the Trade Union Move­ment.

An ex­hi­bi­tion or­gan­ised by Stock­port Trades Union Coun­cil is now show­ing at Stock­port Lo­cal Her­itage Li­brary in the Cen­tral Li­brary, Welling­ton Road South, Mon­day to Satur­day un­til early De­cem­ber.

Through­out 1967, Stock­port cap­tured na­tional head­lines. One hun­dred and fifty work­ers walked out late Novem­ber 1966 when their new boss Robert Pomer­anz from North Carolina re­fused to talk to the union. The is­sue was his de­ci­sion to start a hand­ful of women work­ing at a lower rate than men had been paid for do­ing the same work un­til Pomer­anz had made them re­dun­dant a few weeks ear­lier.

The dis­pute quickly es­ca­lated when in less than a week he sacked ev­ery striker – only four shop floor work­ers didn’t join the ac­tion – and im­me­di­ately ad­ver­tised 235 jobs in the Manch­ester Evening News. De­spite nu­mer­ous at­tempts to set­tle the dis­pute, the strike lasted un­til April 1968 when Pomer­anz fi­nally closed the fac­tory.

The strik­ers quickly or­gan­ised sup­port. They vis­ited hun­dreds of fac­to­ries, ware­houses, haulage com­pa­nies and docks to ask for work­ers to refuse to han­dle Roberts Arun­del goods.

At Manch­ester Air­port, ground staff told KLM to re­move a ma­chine from a cargo plane or no KLM flight would ever take off from Manch­ester Air­port again.

To­gether with other do­na­tions, a weekly levy of en­gi­neer­ing work­ers across Stock­port, Manch­ester, Ash­ton and Old­ham raised £95,000 – equiv­a­lent to £1,500,000 today.

In Fe­bru­ary 1967, a mass picket with sup­port from work­ers at the Shell Car­ring­ton site, marched to the fac­tory and put a brick through ev­ery one of its win­dows. In Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber the Stock­port Trades Union Coun­cil or­gan­ised Weeks of Ac­tion with work­ers join­ing the picket ev­ery week­day morn­ing and af­ter­noon and a march and rally in Stock­port on Satur­day.

Draw­ing on the ar­chives of the Work­ing Class Move­ment Li­brary in Sal­ford, lo­cal photographer Dar­ren Ord has scanned and mounted the images which show how the strike made Stock­port na­tional news for over a year.

This Thurs­day, Novem­ber 16, at 7pm, lo­cal labour move­ment his­to­rian Geoff Brown will use a short il­lus­trated talk to lead a dis­cus­sion of the im­por­tance of the strike.

Stock­port Trades Union Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Sharza Dethick looks for­ward to peo­ple vis­it­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion and leav­ing their com­ments. In her view, the dis­pute: “Is an im­por­tant ex­am­ple of peo­ple’s sup­port for dig­nity and jus­tice at work.

“Stock­port can be proud of the sol­i­dar­ity shown dur­ing the strike.

“We still need such sol­i­dar­ity today.”

We hope you can join us for this stim­u­lat­ing pre­sen­ta­tion and dis­cus­sion.

For more in­for­ma­tion on our up and com­ing events at www.sev­en­mile­soutarts.co.uk

●●A pic­ture from the Roberts Arun­del strike ar­chive – courtesy of the Work­ing Class Move­ment Li­brary

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